One afternoon in May 1982 the claw of a mechanical digger struck something which might have been a stone and the operator stopped to check. It was no stone but a magnificent iron and brass helmet, a triumph of Anglo-Saxon art and craftsmanship.

A major discovery

 

The site was Coppergate where the famous Viking Age discoveries had been uncovered. Excavations had finished but development on the site was still being watched by archaeologists. The helmet had lain only centimetres beneath the surface, protected by a 19th century brick chimney above. It lay on its side in a simple wood-lined pit together with a surprising assortment of other objects. A cheek piece and extension to protect the nose were visible and, through a gap where the mechanical digger had just caught the top of the helmet, links of mail could be seen. What else might lie inside?

The helmet in situ

Above: the helmet as found.

 

Treatment and analysis

Bringing it alive

Find number 1982.22, 155; catalogue number 4418. Height 199mm.
For more information see The Archaeology of York 17/8, The Anglian Helmet from Coppergate by Dominic Tweddle.
The helmet is currently on display at the Castle Museum in York.

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